Camping the Kelty Way

An appreciation for one of America’s most sought after camping gear manufacturers.

Kelty LogoTo my delight, I was recently introduced to the Kelty brand and after my first experience, was quickly converted to a loyal user. Since 1952, Kelty has built affordable, reliable outdoor gear that enables everyone, from the first-time camper to the experienced mountaineer, to embrace the outdoors with confidence.

Kelty Tetoon 2 Tent
Kelty Teton 2 Tent

My first experience included the use of the Kelty Teton 2 Tent for an overnight paddling trip on the Colorado River. I needed something that was light but with plenty of room since I am 6′ 2″ and if you know me, I like my space. While I could have easily shared this with my wife, I would have probably considered the Kelty Yellowstone 4 Tent if she had joined me on this particular adventure. Setup of the Teton 2 was a breeze. I typically follow directions when putting something together for the first time but noticed that three quarters of the way through, I hadn’t even opened up the instructions. I also took notice of the craftsmanship with tight seams, a zipper that actually didn’t snag onto anything and the use of quality materials. That is where it all began.

I began researching Kelty products and found that they carry more than just tents. They also design and manufacture anything from pillows, mattresses and pads to folding chairs, backpacks and camping kitchens – just to name a few items. Lucky for me, I am employed at Austin Canoe and Kayak, which gives me an opportunity to not only look at the products in person but also “test-drive” them.

Kelty Deluxe Lounge Chair
Kelty Deluxe Lounge Chair

One of those products in particular is the Kelty Deluxe Lounge Chair. It may seem like your average folding chair but you’ll quickly notice that it comes with a variety of unique features. For instance, it provides a three-position backrest that can convert the chair into something more like a recliner. After sitting in it for a few minutes, I was tempted to just stay put for the rest of the day – very comfortable. This chair almost hugs you with a seat bottom, back and headrest that are padded and oversized. You’ll also notice that there are two beverages holders and each one is much larger than average with a secondary area for your snacks, or they can be adjusted to fit large one-liter drinks. The side mesh pockets are also huge and convenient for stashing things like flashlights or bug spray and I personally like the fact that it comes with its own bottle opener. Of course, quality is key and they didn’t cut corners with this product. You’ll never look at folding chairs the same way again.

Speaking of comfort, after paddling or hiking for hours, a good nights rest is priceless but when storage and/or carrying capacity is an issue, you can always turn to Kelty’s Light Year sleeping bags. The XP 20 is great for this region as it can get and stay pretty warm throughout the entire camping season. When it does get too warm, I like the fact that you can unzip the foot vent that cools down your feet. However, this is a 3 season sleeping bag so even if a mild cold front unexpectedly hits, this will keep you warm enough to enjoy a good night’s rest. When it comes time to packing or paddling out, you’ll find that it compresses into a small bag, which can easily be stowed in your backpack, kayak or canoe.

Kelty Deluxe Pillow
Kelty Deluxe Pillow

Combine the sleeping bag with a Kelty Luxury Camp Pillow and you have a match made in heaven. This little pillow provides big comfort. It has a stuff sack on the bottom that allows you to…well, stuff clothing or towels into the pillow creating a thicker more comfortable headrest without loosing space in your pack. I also like the fact that it compresses into a tiny little bag that weighs nothing. This pillow is ideal for camping but can also be used in airplanes, auto or even at the office – if you can get away with it.

Another favorite of mine, which is essential for those overnight hiking trips, is the Kelty Red Cloud Back Pack. This backpack provides all the durability you would expect but at an affordable price. The backpack features a lightweight aluminum frame, a variety of easy access compartments, pockets and lash tabs to carry and attach all of your gear. Along with other camping essentials, I was also able to fit my Kelty sleeping bag, pillow and tent into this backpack.

Kelty Basecamp Kitchen
Kelty Basecamp Kitchen

Taking the family camping? You know how difficult it can be to comfortably cook for a group when you don’t have access to a table. The Kelty Basecamp Kitchen not only provides a table for preparing meals but a surface area to place your stove and a pantry to store your cooking utensils and food. The kitchen is foldable and stores inside a transport sack. I see why it won the 2008 Editors Choice Award by Camping Life Magazine.

Kelty Kitchen Sink
Kelty Kitchen Sink

I wanted to say that Kelty makes everything except the kitchen sink but in this case, they actually do! I haven’t personally used one yet but I think it would be a great product to take with me when camping with my family; it’s the Kelty Kitchen Sink. It features a compact basin with retractable drying racks to hold plates and other dishes while drying. Need a place to put some cold drinks? When not in use as a sink, it also works as a handy cooler. Fill it up with your favorite beverage and sit it right next to your Kelty Folding Chair for a relaxing evening.

I can go on and on but figured I would just highlight a few items. I invite you to check our website to see other products by Kelty. You’ll be surprised to see what they have to offer.


Camping and Kayaking – Part 1

A Three Part Series

How do you camp from a kayak you ask? Well I have a little bit of experience here. I spent 6 days sea kayaking along the coast of Baja a few years back and a couple of years before that I spent 15 days, albeit rafting, traveling 245 miles down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. These kinds of trips take a lot of planning and the logistics can be tricky to say the least, but these are the extremes. Realistically, what most of us do is drive to our State Park, local river or coastal refuge and spend a few days at ‘Base Camp’ while taking short jaunts out on the water either fishing, exercising, bird watching, or just sight-seeing from our yaks can canoes. For trips like these you really shouldn’t have to worry about packing light and tight since you’re probably car camping or at most hiking a few hundred yards from your vehicle to the campsite. There’s no shame in car camping, I imagine that 99% of the folks that camp, car camp. I could probably Google this and cite a source or two, but I’m sticking with my gut. So car camping and kayaking it is. There are probably a dozen items that every ‘car camper’ needs to make the outing easy and relaxing. Here’s my list and reasoning:

Tent: Save yourself some weight and expense and get a 3 season tent unless you know you are camping in the winter. The Kelty Yellowstone 4 is a great example of an inexpensive, easy to use, feature filled tent. One suggestion I have would be to make sure the tent has at about 30% more room than you think you need. In other words if you normally camp as a couple, get a 3 person tent. That way if the weather turns foul you can store you gear in it easily without cramping your space and since you aren’t hiking it very far the weight isn’t as big an issue. On an outing in the Cascade Mountains, during some really poor weather, I spent a day and a half in a 2 person tent with an over-sized tent-mate and 6 days worth of alpine gear. Not a lot of fun.

Back Pack: Many destinations that offer camping and kayaking also offer great day hikes. A small day pack or a hydration pack is a necessity. Something like the Camel Bak Rogue Hydration Pack is perfect for a short 1-3 hour hike. The Rogue holds 70L of water and has room for snacks and maybe rain gear. Need more space for more gear, check out something like the Kelty Red Wing 2650 Back Pack. The Red Wing offers enough capacity for longer day hikes and also has a reservoir sleeve so you can add a hydration bladder if you desire. While in The Grand, we hiked every day. My favorite pieces of gear were my water bottle and my CamelBak hydration pack. Make sure the pack is big enough to hold your rain gear.

Rain Gear: Even if you are in the warmer climates, you’ll still want a rain shell with you. Covering two or three miles in the rain whether on foot or in a kayak is a lot more tolerable with a light rain jacket on. Chances are you won’t use it, since most of us plan these trips when the weather look favorable….fair weather campers… but one unexpected downpour will convince you to always carry rain gear.

This is part one of a three part series. Look for part two in a couple of days. Comments are always welcome and encouraged or you can send an email to